Saturday, May 16, 2015

Today's poem: "Notes from a Salt Flat Prisoner" by Noel Crook

The following poem is my final selection from Noel Crook's gorgeous collection, Salt Moon (SIU Press, 2015).

On this island, love, there is nothing but black
and white—the sea’s flat back that keeps us,
bleak shards of coral honed sharp as knives
by tireless wavelets. And the salt—vast,
blinding pans for us to rake. It galls
our wrists and shins like manacles.

Read the rest of the poem here. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Today's poem: "The Secret Lives of Animals" by Noel Crook

This stunning poem is by Noel Crook from her collection Salt Moon (SIU Press, 2015).

The Secret Lives of Animals

One chicken I have loved, bought with my own nickel
at the Feed and Grain when I was nine, taken from my arms
when he outgrew the wire cage beside my bed, stood tiptoe,
and opened the red flower of his throat
to the sun.

Three children I have raised to their season of breast-bud
and first shaves, and in the hothouse darkness of their rooms
their desires tendril into places
I cannot nurture.

Seven dogs I have loved, including the rescue with a taste
for his own shit, not least the childhood spaniel mix
who made quick work of my best hamster. And now this
small white terrier, bred to please, who shimmies with joy
when she greets me mornings, whose best friend is the gray
cat, half prince of sofa-shadow, half Jeffrey Dahmer,
that-- if the dog were smaller and the timing right--
might lick her heart.

And who am I to unlove the terrier for her descents
into the cat's basement workshop-- uncollared dark
from which she returns, tail wagging, bearing a crenulated,
meat-tipped wing or garnet-throated chipmunk head? Once,
at my oldest's age, I brought home to my mother
a necklace of hickeys, crimson as suns, each mouth-shaped
mark a talisman of want's slow burn, secreted in my mind
the look of the boy with freckles and red hair,
his lip pulled back to ugly snarl when I undid
the buttons on my dress.

At night, the young dog shimmers like a moth across the grass,
and, though invisible in shadow, I know the cat flits
in tandem, lets her flat-back him in the mulch, purrs ecstatic

when she mock-mauls his upturned gullet-- wild pantomime
of hungers I can and cannot fathom, while Here sweetling,
I call her. Here wilding. Come to mama. 


Noel Crook is the author of Salt Moon (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry first book award, and the chapbook, Canyon (Red Dragonfly Press). Crook’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets, New Letters, Shenandoah and other journals. She is the poetry editor for Sun Editions and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Today's poem: "Crows" by Noel Crook

This week, I'm reading Noel Crook's collection Salt Moon, winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. I'm haunted by her poem "Crows" that first appeared in Southeast Review

What is it the crows know this first real day of fall
when the sky's gone vacuous and the air thins?
They bark on the lawn in their raucous code,

plumage blue-black smoke of a city

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A new review of Come To Me and Drink

I am grateful to Tawnysha Greene for her lovely review of my chapbook, Come To Me and Drink, which appears in the May 2015 issue of Stirring: A Literary Collection. Click here to read the review.

Today's Poem: "Ars Poetica" by Linda Pastan

One of the joys of subscribing to literary journals is reading new work by a favorite poet. When I opened the Summer 2015 issue of The Gettysburg Review today, I was delighted to see three poems by Linda Pastan included. I've posted the full text of one of her poems below, but you'll have to buy a copy of this journal to read the others. Pastan's next collection, Insomnia, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton this fall.

Ars Poetica
for Billy Collins

As I sit reading your book of poems,
page after page
of ordinary things
but with a twist-- the kind of flavor
a twist of lime can give
a gin and tonic,

I wonder why I can't
write poems like that, melancholy
but not sad exactly,
instead of writing the way
I always do
under a darkening cloud.

And so I take pencil to paper
and try to describe your book,
why it makes me happy.
But here comes that cloud again,
no larger at the moment
than a man's hand.  

-Linda Pastan
from The Gettysburg Review, Summer 2015